After the success of my 10k PB earlier this month, I felt more anxious than I should have about today’s Irish Runner 5 mile race. I just didn’t want to get too confident and then have things go badly; because things DO go badly sometimes, I wanted to be prepared for that. I wavered between being hopeful for a good race and being worried it would be a bad one! This race was a big deal for me, being the first race in the Dublin Marathon Race Series it made training for the marathon that much more official in my mind.
Anyway, I gradually got myself into a mindset that ‘what will be will be’ and focused on my training and making sure I hit my distances, especially the long runs. Given that I’m currently running 9 mile LSRs, a 5 mile race really shouldn’t be a problem.
And it wasn’t, I’m happy to say!
I woke up this morning at 7 and had my usual pre-race breakfast. I always try to eat at least 3 hours before a race, with a top up banana (or gel, for longer races) about a half hour before a race. I left the house early to catch the shuttle bus up to near the start line. This is a really fantastic perk of running in one of the DCM Races! Free shuttle to the start!
From the drop off point it was a bit of a walk which made for a nice warm up and when I got to the start area I checked my bag and then wandered around for a bit. I was an hour early after all so there was a lot of time to kill!
I was mostly looking around for other runners I’ve been getting to know on a forum I am on. We’re all part of a ‘DCM Novices thread’ being mentored by a DCM alumni (who is doing a brilliant job, I must say). I knew some of the novices were running today and I had a list of numbers in my head to look out for. Unfortunately, while I saw a lot of numbers (4000 or so!), I didn’t see any of the ones I was looking for! I did have some people come up to me and say they knew my handle from online, and it was really cool to meet more people that way. I didn’t feel quite so on my own.
I did take a photo of the start line but I didn’t realise I was too early so the big ‘START’ arch wasn’t set up. Oh well!
Once I got to my wave start it was just a matter of waiting. But while I waited I realised I felt pretty good and was looking forward to testing myself and seeing, once again, how far my training has taken me. One thing that stood out for me while waiting for my wave to start, was looking over to my right and seeing a huge pack of the wave 1 runners far off in the distance. I don’t know why but it struck me as being very cool, to know that very soon I’d be following in their footsteps and that to someone else I’d just be a fast moving speck in the distance.
My wave start was running soon after that and I settled in to concentrating on running, and running well.
I’ve run this course before and am familiar with it. It starts out flat, goes down hill then flat for a little bit more then up a tough hill before hitting some up and down bends. Another flat stretch, another hill then flat to the finish. Now, I knew what pace I wanted to run at, but I knew the hills would affect that so I decided to run a little faster on the flats, even out on the downhill, slow down on the hills and speed up at the flats again. My strategy worked.
Mile 0-1: Was pretty good, not too congested and I was able to keep to the pace I wanted. It was hot though! Really hot despite the wind and for the first time in my running life I was grateful for some wind in my face! I was also really happy when I got to run in the shade! Other than that, mile 1 was pretty easy. I really appreciated two enthusiastic cheerers standing on Chesterfield Ave. You made me laugh and that really helped!
Mile 1-2: Pretty uneventful really except that I realized my Garmin wasn’t marking the mile with the course markers, it was beeping early. This threw me a bit because I didn’t know if that meant my pace was off. I decided to run a little bit faster just to be sure.
Mile 2-3: This was my favourite mile, partly because there was shade, partly because there was a downhill stretch but mostly because I saw three deer running alongside the route. It was a stunning moment and I wished I could have taken a photo. But, I was racing and chasing a PB so I restrained myself and carried on running. I don’t think I’ll forget that moment anytime soon though.
Mile 3-4: Probably the toughest mile as it included the dreaded first hill. I was doing fairly ok for time and feeling really good coming up to it, so I kept on running, although at a slower pace. I made it up the hill and didn’t feel like collapsing so that was good!
Mile 4-5: This mile was the hardest in terms of heat, not a lot of shade and the wind was against me so I had to struggle against that too. There was also something going on around me that really annoyed me and I had to battle hard to ignore it. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from running; you need to be strong in mind as well as in body! Anyway, I passed the water station but didn’t take any as I had my own water with me. I also knew I was slowing down some and so needed to save on time! I ran up another hill then began to speed up until I was closer to the finish line. Saw some more deer on this stretch, they actually ran across the path in front of some other runners ahead of me. So cool! After that I sped up even more and really, really appreciated the huge crowd of people who were still cheering at the finish line, including my trainer, Michael of @myptdotie. Honestly, having a loud crowd cheering you on at the finish makes such a difference!
I crossed the finish line in what I thought was good time but because my Garmin had been mis-marking the miles I wasn’t entirely sure if I had beat my previous time. I was going to have to wait for the official result! As I crossed the line I did feel like collapsing for a moment, I had really pushed hard over the last half mile so was really feeling it!
Luckily I didn’t collapse so after collecting my goodie bag and mug I met up with Michael as we went to collect our bags. Afterwards we went back to his gym and did a half hour of stretching instead of doing a full PT session. It did me good!
And, as it happens, I DID run a PB!
I finished in 1:06:29, 2 minutes faster than my last 5 mile race and 7 minutes faster than the same race one year ago!
This was pretty much the kind of time I was hoping for and again, it’s proof to me that my training is paying off and making a difference. It is a huge relief to see the tangible changes for the better that have come with the kind of hours I’ve been putting in running. It makes it all so worth while!
I was also happy to meet various people from online at the race. Thank you all so much for coming up to me and saying hello! Really great to put faces to names!
Big thanks to the organizers of the event, Dublin Marathon and race sponsor Irish Runner Magazine. Was that Frank Greally hanging around before the finish line cheering people on? The race was well organized and the marshals for the most part were very enthusiastic and encouraging. Can’t have been easy hanging around in that heat!
All in all this was a very enjoyable race and I’m looking forward to the next one in the series. I’m not running the 10k but I am signed up for the 10 mile, again in the Phoenix Park. But before that…I have one big, massive goal to achieve…this is huge, my friends. I’ll tell you all about it tomorrow! Look for my tweets! 😀